No plan B for Syria, factions’ terrorist status must be clarified – UN’s de Mistura
UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura told RT that there is ‘no plan B’ in Syria and called on both Russia and the US to "protect" the peace process which he says will work after there is more clarity on which groups should be considered terrorists.
The international negotiations were “a small, but a very special miracle ... created by a high level discussion between the Russian Federation and the USA,” de Mistura told RT in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
Having pointed out that the cessation of hostilities in Syria was initiated by Russia and the US and "blessed" by the UN Security Council and other countries, the envoy said that thanks to these efforts ceasefire "lasted for almost 60 days... and casualties were close to zero."
"I did send a very heartfelt message to both the Russian and American leadership, to say 'You are the ones who produced this cessation of hostilities, so President Putin, President Obama, you came up with a remarkable achievement – protect it, make sure that it doesn't disappear, do agree again on how this cessation of hostilities doesn't lose its energy, because it is in danger'," the UN official told RT.
De Mistura has also warned of a "snowball effect" that a recent hospital attack in Aleppo might cause, having called on all parties to avoid any "excessive response in case of an incident, that would then produce another excessive response."
No "real plan B exists" for the crisis, he said, adding that the only solution to the Syrian conflict "is a political transition based on the Geneva communique and on resolution 2254 [Peace plan for Syria] and a political process."
"There is no military solution to this conflict," de Mistura said.
In order for the plan to work, "there must be more clarity" on which groups should be considered terrorists in Syria. At the same time, the High Negotiations Committee (main opposition alliance)'s decision to abruptly quit the talks last week did not largely affect the negotiations process, according to the UN official.
Earlier this week, the Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin submitted Moscow’s request to the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), asking the UN to sanction and delegitimize two more militant groups in Syria.
Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam are known to have close links to Islamic State and Al-Qaeda and "regularly" violate and sabotage the Russia-US-brokered Syrian ceasefire, Moscow said.
Despite the Syrian opposition alliance having walked out, talks continued as planned, de Mistura told RT, adding: "The real danger for the talks is what the Syrians are telling us. And they are telling us 'you can have all the conferences you want, but what we need now is to have the ceasefire as a reassuring point'."
"In a conflict of five years where 4 million people are refugees, and perhaps between 300,000 and 400,000 have been killed and 1 million wounded, I think we need a lot of strategic patience in order to make sure that this doesn't continue," de Mistura said, adding that one Syrian is killed every 25 minutes.
Pentagon concedes Russia’s ‘constructive role’ in Syrian ceasefire, fight against ISIS pic.twitter.com/am7PLnJkfb— RT (@RT_com) March 30, 2016
"I've been with the UN for 45 years ... and I've never seen a conflict which has become so complicated by so many countries and so many entities involved in it," the UN envoy to Syria said, adding that despite all the difficulties the international community must proceed with its efforts.
"We do have a contact group, we have Russians and Americans talking seriously about it, we even have a special control room in Geneva... so we have a critical mass. Plus the Syrian people can't wait any more," de Mistura said, having concluded that no one should forget that "behind all of this is ISIS, who are waiting to take advantage of the hesitation of international community."